IB in NYC or London better as an intl?

I'm an international student with offers from target schools in both the US  (Duke/Northwestern) and UK (LSE). I'm still deliberating over career paths, but high finance is an option I'm strongly considering. Assuming I do decide on high finance, my goal will be to break into IB and then pivot to PE after 2 years. The offers I have in hand feed into NYC and LDN offices, respectively.

I've talked to a few seniors currently in the recruiting process and, surprisingly, almost everyone has urged me to head to NYC to kickstart my finance career. I'm turning to wso to possibly offer any counter perspectives and to verify if my understanding is correct. 

Cost of attending college in the US is about 150K USD more but many have said that the difference evens out over time because salaries are higher in the US. Anyways, my parents can comfortably foot the bill, the question is whether it's worth forking out that extra sum.

NYC pros

  • higher pay even after accounting for COL and tax differences (approx. 20-30K USD higher)

  • higher deal flow and quality of deals made, most major banks and funds are headquartered in NYC (comparatively less in LDN e.g. GS/JPM/MS vs Barclays etc.)

  • more opportunities to break into buyside simply because of higher headcount and number of shops in NYC and LDN

  • more diversified buyside opportunities in NYC than LDN (more easily break into a tech-related PE/VC etc.)

NYC cons 

  • recruiting is more network-based than the LSE. this can be a pro or con, depending on how you see it. on one hand, it makes recruiting relatively less meritocratic and more relationships based. this goes in your favor if you're a hardworking and more likable guy. this goes against you if you're hardworking and more technical.

  • shitter WLB, longer hours and way less protected holidays. BUT a counter to this, though, would be NYC is THE place to kickstart your career in finance. If mid-way, I'd want to transfer to LDN/SG/HK is still possible. transferring from LDN to NYC, however, will basically not be possible.

  • US visa situation is tricker BUT I come from a country with a special visa status from the rest of the intls. The visa is not subject to the lottery system (basically guaranteed) and I can stay indefinitely. HOWEVER because my visa is so rare, most banks will group me with the rest of the intls for recruiting, so breaking in is as hard as other intls but once I get the job, staying is much easier. (some have also said apparently I can still go to for LDN IBD as a back-up if I fail NYC recruiting because my US school qualifies under the UK gov's new special visa for top unis internationally)

LDN pros

  • better WLB and protected holidays

  • teams are more international + visa situation is more favorable for intls

  • pro/con: recruiting is less network-based (applying online and dropping of your resume VS OCR and heavy networking in the US)

  • some have told me LSE has more recognition in Asia, but I've heard that is no longer true, and, specifically HK/SG, value American schools (Duke/Northwestern) equally or even more

LDN cons

  • lower pay even after COL, tax etc. differences

  • lower quality, volume, and types of deals

  • less opportunities to break into buyside

  • for LSE, I got into the pure economics course but their education style is more rigid. I can't switch or double major even though I do have a passion in computer science too. also may be harder to stand out? since almost everyone at the LSE is studying something economics-related and way more are gunning for finance than Duke/Northwestern. LSE grads tend to more similar or carbon copies of one another than Duke/Northwestern grads, where for e.g. ppl studying history/CS/philosophy can gun for finance too, making it easier to stand out/tell a compelling story.

  • coming to LDN mid-career is doable after being in NYC for long, whereas the converse is not true.

*though I have interests in both CS/econ, I'm willing to suppress my CS interests if it means one market i.e. LDN is better for my career.

This is my understanding after speaking to a few currently recruiting, some in the industry, as well as my own research. Please let me know if anything mentioned is incorrect.

Thank you!


Nostrum quasi velit laboriosam amet nobis et qui. Maiores sint eum quis repellendus sint ut veniam necessitatibus. Ea in voluptatem maxime ea adipisci. Consectetur et quaerat consequatur cumque est similique qui. Atque cum id quaerat nihil debitis.

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

Career Advancement Opportunities

May 2024 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company 02 99.4%
  • Lazard Freres No 98.9%
  • Harris Williams & Co. 25 98.3%
  • Goldman Sachs 17 97.7%
  • JPMorgan Chase 04 97.1%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

May 2024 Investment Banking

  • Harris Williams & Co. 18 99.4%
  • JPMorgan Chase 10 98.9%
  • Lazard Freres 05 98.3%
  • Morgan Stanley 07 97.7%
  • William Blair 04 97.1%

Professional Growth Opportunities

May 2024 Investment Banking

  • Lazard Freres 01 99.4%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.9%
  • Goldman Sachs 17 98.3%
  • Moelis & Company 07 97.7%
  • JPMorgan Chase 05 97.1%

Total Avg Compensation

May 2024 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (5) $648
  • Vice President (21) $373
  • Associates (91) $259
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (14) $181
  • Intern/Summer Associate (33) $170
  • 2nd Year Analyst (68) $168
  • 1st Year Analyst (205) $159
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (148) $101
16 IB Interviews Notes

“... there’s no excuse to not take advantage of the resources out there available to you. Best value for your $ are the...”


From 10 rejections to 1 dream investment banking internship

“... I believe it was the single biggest reason why I ended up with an offer...”